Economical But Good
Kahr has been building compact pistols with polymer frames since 2000. Past models have included the P9, PM9, TP9, P40, P40 Covert, and the TP40. This year saw the addition of another pair of Kahrs: the CW9 and CW40.
At first glance, the CW9 and CW40 appear to be clones of the P9 and P40 pistols, but the CW-series pistols represent Kahr's economy models and have certain cost-cutting features. For example, fewer machining operations are used to make the slide, resulting in a more squared off silhouette. Also, the front sight is pinned in place rather than using a dovetail cut and slide markings are engraved rather than rollmarked. Other cost-cutting measures that you may notice include a slide stop lever that is metal-injection-molded rather than machined and a barrel that has conventional broach rifling instead of polygonal. While nothing described above is very earth shaking, Kahr was able to use these measures to reduce the suggested retail price of its CW pistols by approximately $130.
Kahr was kind enough to provide me with a CW9 pistol to evaluate for Police. While I must say that the CW9 is sort of plain looking, it nonetheless possesses the fine ergonomics and natural handling qualities that Kahr pistols are known for.
For example, the trigger pull is as smooth and stage free as that of the well-used PM9 that I have carried for years. I also like the dot/bar sighting system, which for my money provides faster sight alignment and target acquisition than the more common three-dot sight.
To see how the Kahr CW9 performed, I assembled a variety of 9mm cartridges and headed out to the range. When fired from a rest at a distance of 15 yards, this little pistol produced some very pleasing groups. The only fly in the ointment was that it tended to shoot a bit low, but once I had the measure of that I was able to shoot some very nice, well-centered groups. If I were to keep this pistol, installation of a higher rear sight would correct the problem.
I then belted on a Gould & Goodrich Yaqui Belt Slide holster and ran the CW9 through a number of drills at distances of three, five, and seven yards. Despite the CW9's small size, light weight, and DAO trigger, I had no trouble putting rounds in the higher scoring regions of a pair of D-1 targets.
As for reliability, I ran more than 300 rounds through the CW9 in several shooting sessions without a single failure to feed, chamber, fire, or eject. Even several attempts at making it malfunction by firing it limp wristed proved fruitless, as it just kept launching 9mm bullets down range.
Finally, I decided to put the CW9 to a practical test. I carried it on a daily basis for two weeks and not only could I conceal it under a lightweight vest but, to be perfectly honest about it, I was rarely cognizant of the fact that I had the little pistol on my person.
Remember the criteria for judging a backup/off-duty pistol that I set forth at the beginning of this article? The CW9 meets them all: It's reliable, compact, simple to operate, and it packs a punch. If you're looking for an inexpensive backup or off-duty weapon, take a look at the Kahr CW9 or CW40. They are both excellent and economical guns.
Paul Scarlata has served as an auxiliary police officer and is a frequent contributor to Police.